Arsenal Ladies Column #17
It may be all quiet on the Arsenal front with Euro 2012 taking the spotlight, but things are certainly in full swing for the Arsenal Ladies. Following their qualification for the semi final of the Continental Cup, the Ladies game broke for international purposes. Kim Little bagged a hat trick in Scotland`s 8-0 rout of Israel, whilst Steph Houghton, Alex Scott and Ellie White turned out for England`s Euro 2013 qualifying double header against Holland and Slovenia. Emma Byrne, Ciara Grant and Yvonne Tracey appeared in consecutive defeats for Ireland. Jaybe Ludlow was not quite fit enough to represent Wales.
But the headlines were taken by Rachel Yankey. She scored the winner against Holland in Salford with a quick free kick and then equalled Gillian Coulthard`s record of 119 England caps by playing in the 2-0 win over Slovenia. Staying on the international front, Alex Scott, Steph Houghton, Kim Little, Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith and Ellie White have all been selected to represent the Great Britain side in this summer`s London Olympics. Team GB play two games in Cardiff- on 25th July against New Zealand and 28th July against Cameroon- before playing Brazil at Wembley on July 31st. Tickets are very good value at £20 for adults. If you`ll excuse a grumble from a grumpy Londoner, it`s possibly the only part of the whole games that is approaching reasonably priced!
Laura Harvey`s side got back down to club business last Sunday with a top of the table clash with Birmingham City at Borehamwood. Alas, I was unable to make the game due to a lovely long weekend in Dublin, but it was the Ladies` most vital game of the WSL season so far. With Birmingham sat just two points behind Arsenal, this was a genuine six pointer. Two ex Arsenal players lined up for Birmingham in the shape of goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and forward Karen Carney. Kelly Smith and Ellie White continued their injury recoveries on the bench Jayne Ludlow has, troublingly, been unable to regain her fitness after more than two months since she picked up a calf injury. Nahim Fahey returned from injury at left back and got 53 minutes under her belt.
The ever improving Gemma Davison gave Arsenal the lead, before Kim Little made it 2-0 going into the break. Steph Houghton`s early second half goal rather sealed the result. Fara Wlliams hit a consolation, before Jen Beattie made it 4-1. A late goal from Jodie Taylor made the final score 4-2, which was plenty to reassert Arsenal`s dominance in the WSL, opening up a 5 point lead at the top of the table. Kelly Smith came off the bench to make a second debut for the club following a stress fracture to the ankle, whilst Ellie White got another 30 minutes in her comeback from a back problem. All in all, a very good afternoon`s work for Laura Harvey`s side, who have well and truly shaken off a period of bad form from the late spring brought about by Champions League and F.A. Cup exits in quick succession. Gemma Davison and Jen Beattie are beginning to help in Little out more in the goals department and the return of White and Smith from injury will help in that area too.
Their next match was supposed to be this coming Sunday against Doncaster Belles at Borehamwood, but the match has been postponed. The away game with Donny Belles was also postponed in April due to Arsenal`s F.A. Cup commitments. That match has now been rearranged for Sunday, 26th August at 2pm at Keepmoat Stadum. The Ladies next encounter takes place on Thursday away at Chelsea. The match will be held at Staines Town`s Wheatsheaf Park with a 7pm kickoff. Tickets are £5 adults £2.50 concessions. If you`re unable to make it, then allow me to be your eyes and ears, as I shall and will report on the game via these very pages next Friday. LD.
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